Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Best and Worst of the Taste of Anaheim

15th Annual Taste of Anaheim
Anaheim Garden Walk
321 W. Katella Ave
Anaheim, CA 92802

I am always up for a good food festival, so when I heard about the Taste of Anaheim, I was totally in. I like food festivals where all the food samples are all inclusive, like this one. The list of restaurants for this one, was way too impressive to pass up. So I decided I would judge all the things I ate, from worst, to best. So sit back, put on your comfy pants, and lets see the winners and losers from the Taste of Anaheim. First up is the losers bracket.

Easily the worst thing that we ate were these two dishes brought to you by Concourse Bowling Center. Yes, it is not just a stereotype that bowling alley food is no good. They served veal meatballs and a chicken curry deal served on hard bread. The meatballs were flavor-less, and the chicken curry dish tasted horrible. I could not finish it. Concourse would have been better off frying up the bowling shoes left in their lost and found.

Next up was the La Brea Bakery. The bran muffins were so dry, that they could have soaked up all the liquor at the festival, and still would have been as dry as Salt Lake City on a Sunday night. The sandwich was as bland as it looks. How about something sweet La Brea Bakery, isn't that what bakeries are known for?

No worst list would be complete without a mention about Hooters. These chalky little nuggets were the boneless buffalo pieces they were serving. If Hooters did not have their girls, they would be out of business in about five minutes serving food like this.

I have not been to Lazy Dog Cafe yet, but I am still open to trying them, even after eating this beet salad. I liked the presentation, but how about something with some substance. Luckily, I did not see this on their menu on-line.

Keeping with the salad theme was Rainforest Cafe's strawberry salad. This gimmicky restaurant did not do itself any favors by sampling this lackluster salad. There was no dressing to speak of on this salad. I finished it, but just because this was one of the first booths I made it to, and I was starving.

Above is the ribs that Alcatraz was sampling. This tasted okay, but they made the worst list, because the first bite I took had a bunch of fat on it. The sauce was just okay also.

Both of these samples from the Catch, were just okay. I liked the tuna tartare, and it photographed beautifully. The shrimp salad was just okay, wish they would of had samples of their four pound burger here.

This was from Bubba Gump's, and was a shrimp on a skewer, wrapped around sausage. To be honest, this was not too bad, but by this point in the night I was getting stuffed, and nothing was really tasting too good anymore. All things started tasting the same.

This is the offering from Manhattan Steak and Seafood. This was not a bad slider, the meat tasted fine, but the bun was a little hard, and there was no sauce on this. The shrimp bruschetta was average as well. So many places were serving shrimp, it all started to blend together.

Okay, now on to the winners bracket. Going from good to great, here is the list of places that made a favorable impression on us. The two dishes above are from Sally Ann's Catering. This shrimp salad had some flavor and tasted good. The Turkey Wellington was also covered in a gravy and this made it one of the more saucy items at the festival.

I have never been to Tortilla Jo's before, but they made the nachos above. These were really good, and had big hunks of meat on them. They were a little hard eating standing up, but were worth the effort.

Above is the carnitas and chicken wrap from Cantina Lounge. These were good, but I think I liked them more because they were different than anything else other people were giving out. The tortilla on these had a good texture and the fillings inside of them tasted good as well.  

Now I have to admit that the Mimi's booth is the first one we went to, but this was not too bad. The pasta dish they had was full of flavor, and the artichoke and spinach dip was good as well. I am glad they served it with bread instead of tortilla chips.

House of Blues had a pretty good slider. I liked the sauce more than the meat, but it was still a decent BBQ pork slider. The apple pastry above actually photographs better than it tasted. I thought it was dry, and did not have a lot of apple taste.

Our fourth best entry was from Fire and Ice. Fire and Ice is located at the Garden Walk and they had their restaurant open for tours for festival visitors to see what they offer. I thought more tenants of the Garden Walk should have followed the lead of Fire and Ice, but most of the stores were dark. Anyways, Fire and Ice has a table in the middle of their restaurant, and people bring up whatever they want the cooks to whip up for them. Kind of like Mongolian BBQ, but with pasta, burgers, seafood and more. I am looking forward to trying this all you can eat place.  

The burger you are looking at, looks like it is very raw, but it was cooked perfectly. This is the signature 50/50 burger, from Slater''s 50/50. The burger is 50% ground beef, and 50% ground bacon, thus giving it its pinkish hue. The burger also had chipotle mayo, pepper jack cheese, avocado, and a fried egg. All of this added up to a very delicious burger.

Our second best sample of the night was this crab cake from Mr. Stox. Normally this would be number one, but by the time I had gotten to this booth, I was done, and needed some time to let my taste buds return to normal. If you have never had a crab cake from Mr. Stox, do yourself a favor and get one, they are amazing.

Sorry for the poor picture of this, but by this time it was pitch black and I could not get a good shot of this Kobe Slider from Ruby's. This was number one because it tasted good, and it was hot off of the grill. Ruby's consistently had one of the longest lines of the night, and they did make a great slider.

I really liked the Taste of Anaheim. I wish more places would of had more variety. I like shrimp, but almost every place had shrimp that they were handing out. I also liked the interaction between the general public and the people that run the restaurants and make the food. It was nice to be able to ask questions. I will definitely be back next year.

For more information on the Taste of Anaheim, click here:

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